Douglas Blyde visits L’Enclume in Cumbria and speaks to head sommelier Valentin Mouillard about how he has looked to his past when creating a wine list for Simon Rogan’s “magical” three Michelin star restaurant. Taken from this year’s Wine List Confidential guide, available to buy now.
The cooking in this lovely old smithy has never stopped evolving and the energy emanating from the kitchen is as palpable as ever,” is how Michelin described L’Enclume upon finally awarding the restaurant a third star after 20 years of trading.
L’Enclume takes the French for the anvil which still takes pride of place in the beamed dining room of the 800-year-old building, a setting which Mouillard describes as “magical”.
Having grown up near Nantes to a restaurateur father and teacher mother while his grandparents made wine in the Jura, expect wines from those regions, such as Philippe Guerin “Abstraction #2” Sauvignon and Domaine Jean Macle Château-Chalon, to feature on Mouillard’s list, which tours France with skill. “Vin jaune was the first style which amazed me by its complexity and longevity,” he says. “When you try the latest vintage and then a mature one you can see all this development – just stunning.”
Meanwhile, fine wines from elsewhere in the world include, presumably as a nod to L’Enclume’s former use, The Foundry white Grenache from Paarl; Alheit Vineyards’ Magnetic North which is also from South Africa; Donelan’s Venus Roussanne blend from Sonoma; and Giaconda Estate Shiraz.
Interestingly, Mouillard aims to list only one reference per colour, per winemaker. “This makes it more fun,” he says, adding, “this way, you don’t end up with pages of one cuvée or one winemaker.”
Paramount importance is placed on produce at chef-owner Simon Rogan’s restaurants, which now reach as far as Hong Kong, with the nearby 12-acre “Our Farm” given over to vegetables, herbs and edible flowers, an orchard, as well as livestock. With prior notice, this can be visited. Meanwhile, a full-time forager works alongside.
With the dish of steamed cod, rainbow chard and Mylor prawns in rosehip realised by head chef Paul Burgalières, Mouillard pours Johannes Zillinger’s Numen Fumé Blanc 2019. “This particular vintage is fruit-driven with notes of peach, lychee, and mango which combine perfectly with the rosehip and the slight sweetness of the sauce.”
When not at L’Enclume, Mouillard keeps extremely fit, running, climbing, “and I am learning how to paraglide”.
Score: 94.7 Value: 90 Size: 95 Range: 96 Originality: 93 Experience: 99.5
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